A couple of years ago, I looked over my game collection and sighed at the number of games that hadn't seen the attention they deserved. I wrote a post listing games that I wanted to spend more time on, even as I realized that as long as leisure time is limited and the game collection is big, there will always be neglected games on my shelves. It's a topic worth revisiting from time to time - both because it's interesting to see how the list has changed (and how it hasn't) and because it's helpful to look at the collection with fresh eyes and think about resurrecting a few titles that might bear dusting off and playing again.
Friday, December 12, 2014
Monday, June 24, 2013
My good friend Grant Greffey recently gave me a copy of Sparta (designer Yannick Holtkamp, artist Claus
Stephan, publisher Queen), a rather clever abstract in the category of perfect-information zero-luck two-player games. My wife Kathy and I tried it out last night, and we confirmed something that we've observed with other games in this category: There are many games in which Kathy and I go toe-to-toe, and a few in which she can wipe the floor with me, but I pretty much have the advantage in these pure two-player abstracts. She's good at them, but I usually win, which makes them imperfect candidates for our cocktail hour gaming.
|(c) Queen Games. |
Used by permission
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
|For the Win final position|
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
|Kathy (black) wins second game |
of For The Win. Can I blame it
on the martini?
I hadn't bothered with the pre-release print-and-play version because, to me, the appeal of FTW as it was for Hive! is the physical domino-quality tileset. Yes, the gameplay is important, but as with 24/7 and Confusion: Espionage and Deception in the Cold War, there's a tactile gratification to handling the bakelite-style game pieces. And FTW does not disappoint. In fact, somehow I had the mistaken impression that the tiles would be significantly smaller. I had envisioned something like 7/8-inch (22mm) squares, but they are in fact 1 1/4 - inch (31mm) square, a very comfortably sized playing piece.
|Bakelite-quality square tiles make for a gratifying tactile experience.|
We played our first two rounds of FTW at our customary cocktail hour this afternoon. We found the game to be easy to understand but tricky to strategize, as I suppose any good two-player abstract game should be. It is also a rather quick play. I think it took Kathy less than 45 minutes to learn the game and beat me twice at it. Now, to be fair, the first game we were taking a rather ad hoc approach just to get the feel of the game and the mechanics of the rules. It was in the second game that we each buckled down and tried to exercise some real tactics. (And, yes, she won that game, too.)
As it happens, Kathy and I misinterpreted (that is, I misread the rule and misled my wife) the behavior of the monkey's banana. We assumed that the monkey's banana action renders all tiles adjacent to the monkey face down (inactive), regardless of original state. Instead, a closer reading of the rules shows that "tiles that were face up are now face down and vice versa [emphasis added]." So now I see the monkey in a whole new light. The monkey can be used to activate multiple friendly pieces in a single action. <Bwa-ha-ha-HAH> I make no claim that this rule misinterpretation was in any way a factor in my losing the game twice in a row. I just wanted to point that out.
All kidding aside, we really like FTW as a two-player abstract short game with simple rules, no luck, and considerable potential for depth. I'm reluctant to call it a "filler" only because we don't know just how tactically challenging it might prove. I have to say, I'm very pleased with this Kickstarter discovery.